Animal hoarding affects a percentage of the sixteen million reported people in the US who suffer from compulsive hoarding. Hoarding is animal abuse. What should matter when determining the likelihood that an animal hoarding situation has developed or not is if the animals in question are well-groomed, well-fed, provided sufficient space to grow and exercise, and if they are taught to use the bathroom in safe and sanitary ways. Repeated offenses can result in the offender being charged with a higher level of misdemeanor, which would carry a higher penalty. Some of the best dogs I’ve ever had have been “freebies,” in fact. Hoarding is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and may be accompanied by other symptoms of OCD. I hope that one day, I will never have to pick up a newspaper or turn on the television and be confronted with a horrific story of dogs that have become so ill that they had to be put down, or even died, due to hoarding. Of course breeders do have more dogs than most of us, but that’s because dogs are the cornerstone of their business. Due to the many biohazards such as feces, urine, vomit, and other bodily fluids, pathogens and allergens can spread mercilessly throughout the home. In as much as 80% of hoarding cases, animals are found dead or in severe condition. The trouble with this is that hoarders don’t usually change their ways, and in the absence of mandatory psychological counselling, they don’t get the help they need to change, supposing they actually want to. However, the situation and the way the pets are cared for are the determining factors. When a person hoards animals of pets, there is going to be a significant amount of waste, hazardous materials that can cause harm to people who come into contact with it. These diseases can infect human beings, causing an epidemic that can been avoided by getting animal hoarding help and properly caring for these pets. Obviously, not everyone who has a lot of dogs is a hoarder. Many animal hoarders report that they were abused as children, so this is the basis for the theory that animal hoarding may go hand in hand with attachment disorder. Because of repeated urination and defecation, his skin was scalded. Occasionally, a hoarder will keep exotic or wild animals. Broken walls, no electricity or running water, fire hazards, and visible rodents and other non-pet animals are a few of the characteristics of homes within hoarding level 5. So, how many dogs is too many? Whether a person has two animals or two dozen animals should be irrelevant. Most commonly, the function of hoarding or caching is to store food in times of surplus for times when food is less plentiful. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO. So hoarding doesn’t just harm the hoarder and his or her animals, it adversely affects everyone in the household. Many animal rights activists think the real number is much higher than that. Again, call the ASPCA or Humane Society, or even the police. Rather, it’s about a compulsive need to acquire animals that reaches an overwhelming state, resulting in unintentional animal neglect or abuse. Penalties for animal neglect can include fines, jail time, and/or the forfeiture of the animal. Its not about numbers its about if a person can physically and financially care for the animals and if they are willing to care for the animals they have. You might offer to help find a home for some of the dogs if the elderly person is overwhelmed trying to care for all of them. As you might expect, the overwhelming amount of animal waste also makes it virtually impossible to prepare and store food safely. Very few states actually consider animal cruelty to be a felony, and the penalties may be no harsher for multiple cases of animal neglect than for a single case. Air quality suffers, often to the point where rescuers need to wear protective clothing and breathing apparatus in order to remove the animals from the home. Hawaii, however, specifically prohibits hoarding, and sets a specific number – any more than 15 animals (dogs and cats only are considered; there are no provisions for birds or reptiles) constitutes hoarding if the animals are not properly cared for, and can … This issue is multifaceted and we have to take into account mental health, safety of the animals and the person involved, even public health safety. Finding the correct course of action to ensure a safe and effective recovery process can be achieved by asking for help from an animal hoarding professional. And it does not provide for a ban on future ownership of animals. Hoarders often have difficulty organizing. Sometimes, the hoarder has to be prosecuted, if only as a deterrent to others who may engage in this harmful behavior. In fact, according Jacey Burch of Local 10 News in Florida, many cities do not have pet or animal limit laws on the books at all. Whether a person has two animals or two dozen animals should be irrelevant. I’ve always been worried that I might cross the line and be considered a hoarder. As previously mentioned, it is probably a variation on OCD, but it can also be an indication of an attachment disorder (an abnormal attachment to animals or an inability to bond with humans), and can also have its roots in dementia (we’ve all heard of the “crazy cat lady”), and even sometimes in addiction. Failure to address infestations and their negative effects on the property can result in structural damage, causing serious bodily harm to the building’s occupants. 12 Recidivism in this context refers to the frequency with which people reacquire multiple animals after having animals legally removed. The Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act includes a definition of animal hoarders, and mandates psychological counselling for offenders. This is particularly true in cases of animal hoarding, where a person takes in far too many animals than can be cared for and becomes virtually blind to their suffering. Hoarders are not often able to provide basic care for their dogs, and the result is disease at best, and death at worst. Cats are the most common animal-hoarding victims. Even when there are so many dogs that it becomes impossible to maintain a decent level of sanitation, properly nourish them all, and provide veterinary care, even when the hoarder’s own health has become compromised, and even when disease, starvation and death occur, hoarders will cling to the belief that they are providing a good standard of care for their dogs. Although it’s not a specific, diagnosable mental illness in and of itself, most experts agree that hoarding is evidence of a psychological disorder, or more than one disorder. For instance, in Alto, Georgia, hoarding is specifically prohibited. Often, OCD sufferers feel an overwhelming need to take certain actions to be highly responsible for something in their lives. Individuals suffering from this disorder will fill their homes to the brim with many different animals including dogs, cats, reptiles, rodents, birds, and in some cases even farm animals. This means, unfortunately, that often law enforcement has to become involved. After all, it is certainly possible for people to take care of many dogs at once, and an arbitrary number does nothing to forestall cruelty. They can investigate the situation, and might even be able to get the hoarder the help they need. The ASPCA’s position on hoarding is that there is no specific number, but that you slip over into hoarding when you have more animals than you can reasonably care for, and at the same time you deny that you’re in out of your depth. Animals collected range from cats and dogs to reptiles, rodents, birds, exotics and even farm animals. With all this attention being afforded to hoarders of all stripes (reference a veritable media explosion on the discussion of animal and non-animal hoarding), I've noticed a trend towards a demonized depiction of the so-called, "crazy cat lady." A first offense is a misdemeanor, and subsequent offenses can be prosecuted as a Class 4 felony. One such example is ALDF v. Conyers, a case in which more than 100 dogs were seized. Besides, hoarders are not likely to be all that concerned about the law – they’ll just keep their dogs inside, in even worse conditions than if they were visible, rather than be parted from their pets. The courts are not burdened by multiple charges, and hoarders do not get away with having only one charge leveled against them when, in fact, several animals have been harmed. Animal hoarding can be a very difficult subject to address. Behavioral issues are also rampant. Hoarders are most likely mentally ill to one degree or another. Pet ownership vs. Animals must also be housed in a manner that does not result in harm – in other words, they must not be over-crowded, and must be protected from the elements. As of the time of writing, only Hawaii and Illinois have laws that specifically relate to animal hoarding. Persistence, despite this failure, in accumulating and controlling animals; There are many similarities between animal hoarding and object hoarding, including the common side effects of the behavior: a cluttered, non-functional and sometimes dangerously unclean living space; social alienation; and denial/refusal to seek help. You might not think that someone who is so invested in their dogs could be intentionally cruel to any living creature, but this often happens. Animal hoarding has a negative impact on the occupants of the house. Animal hoarding is actually a much deeper issue than just having lots of pets. Here are a few red flags if you suspect someone you know is hoarding cats or any type of animal:. As previously stated, prosecuting hoarders can be problematic. Unlike Illinois, though, Hawaii does not mandate psychological counselling. Hawaii, however, specifically prohibits hoarding, and sets a specific number – any more than 15 animals (dogs and cats only are considered; there are no provisions for birds or reptiles) constitutes hoarding if the animals are not properly cared for, and can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or as a criminal offense. Sometimes, this is in an effort to prevent hoarding. The offender may face criminal charges at the State Attorney’s discretion. No specific number of pets defines a hoarder of animals over a regular pet owner. Hoarding is, indisputably, animal cruelty, whether it is intentional or not. Many animal rights advocates believe that the state laws don’t go nearly far enough. How do you know how many pets are “too many”? If it was 30 cats in a trailer, then yes, of course it’s too many. Some estimate that as many as 1 in 4 people with OCD also have compulsive hoarding. Hoarding is one of the most egregious forms of animal cruelty, affecting tens of thousands of animals – mostly cats and dogs – in communities nationwide. In all cases of animal hoarding, the hoarder believes that the animals are better off … They may also be very resistant to efforts by the ASPCA to help them achieve a manageable level when it comes to the number of dogs in the home. Hoarders are not just too unable to care for their dogs; they are also incapable of taking care of themselves, or any humans who may live with them. Animal hoarders are subject to prosecution if they fail to provide a proper level of care for their animals. But if you think you know of an instance of hoarding, you can help. Hoarding alone is not a violation of the Act, though – harm must be proven. However, five is the most dogs I’ve ever had at one time, so I don’t think that exactly qualifies me as a “crazy dog person.” If I’d had 25 dogs instead of five, of course, you might reasonably question my mental stability. Dogs are considered geriatric when they reach about 8 years of age, and geriatric dogs need exams, blood work, and urinalysis at least twice yearly. Eighty percent of animal hoarders have diseased, dying, or … If you could spend 24 hours a day cleaning your house and still could not keep up, you have too many. Judges are reluctant to see multiple charges, because several counts end up “clogging” the system, and also because it is difficult to prove each individual charge.So, cases involving a single count are processed faster, and often result in a conviction, but they do nothing to highlight the seriousness of multiple instances of cruelty. Animals “collected” by hoarders range in species from cats and dogs to reptiles, rodents, birds, exotics and even farm animals. And that no one will ever feel that they can’t ask for help, and be treated kindly. I am the first person to admit that, from time to time, I have probably had more dogs in my home than the typical person has, simply because I have a great deal of difficulty saying “No” when someone tells me about a dog that desperately needs a home. The infestations can also spread to adjacent homes and other buildings. The following criteria are used to define animal hoarding: An individual possesses more than the typical number of companion animals. Serious hoarders also frequently fail to pay their utility bills because every penny they have has to go to feeding their dogs (who are still not getting enough to eat), leading to a lack of electricity and running water. Does anyone know if there is any set number of cats that is now considered illegal and will result in charges being brought against you? Then they just go back to hoarding. If the hoarder is elderly, dementia could be at the root of the hoarding behavior, in which case Adult Protective Services may be able to provide help. I agree with him. Hoarding or caching in animal behavior is the storage of food in locations hidden from the sight of both conspecifics (animals of the same or closely related species) and members of other species. Insects and rodents are also attracted to a property that has succumb to animal hoarding. I’ve talked about breed bans in The Truth About Dog Bites and Should You Get a License for Your Dog, and I do worry that when governments at any level start telling citizens how many dogs they can have, breed bans may be the next step. The problem with this, though, is that it does not take into consideration the level of care being provided to the animals. Although any animal could be hoarded, cats and dogs are more commonly the victims. Toilets begin to overflow. In most states, failure of care is considered to be an act of omission, not commission, and, as such, is a misdemeanor. At least 250,000 animals are affected each year. Feces and urine accumulate because of the sheer impossibility of attending to the elimination needs of so many animals. Hoarders, sadly, don’t, and that’s something that we should all be concerned about. In most states, this means that each animal must have access to enough food and water to ensure good health, and that medical care must be sought when necessary. The dogs don’t get even the bare minimum of care that they need; they are filthy, parasite-infested, and living in their own waste. Most likely, though, it’s OCD. The individual in question cannot tell you exactly how many cats/animals they have in their home. Hoarders keep abnormally large numbers of animals for whom they do not provide even the most basic care. Many rescued dogs are malnourished and dehydrated,and may also be emotionally damaged because of the need to compete against other dogs for whatever food is available. It is the internal and compulsive need to not only have animals in your home, but to also control them. It’s not rational, and it’s not sensible, but for the hoarder, it is very deniable. But I’ve also known a man with only four pets whose living situation was such that “hoarding” became a reasonable description. Even after the dogs have been rescued, the effects of hoarding can have long-term effects. If the situation has progressed to the point where dogs are in danger, don’t hesitate. The lack of sanitation in the home can lead to any number of human health problems, including respiratory issues, parasite infection, and general lack of hygiene. Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University, 5 Most Common Dog Training Mistakes (Video). These insects and vermin not only carry their own diseases, but they can also compromise the structural integrity of a property by using building materials such as wood, carpet, padding, wood, and metal to build nests and consume as food. Animal hoarding doesn’t just affect the animals involved. For every single charge that is brought, prosecutors must offer proof of the harm done. Of course, it’s not all good news, either, because that means that hoarders can claim to be breeders, and get a multiple pet exemption. And we all need to be alert to the problem of hoarding. The Real Face of Animal Hoarding. Hoarding cleaning service providers are not equipped to determine how many animals are too many. Hoarders are overwhelmingly attached to their dogs. They may even believe that they are “dog whisperers” who have an almost supernatural ability to communicate with their dogs – and anyone who tries to tell them otherwise is attempting to cause harm to them and their dogs. THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. Rehabilitation is hardly ever an option, so the animals that the hoarder actually loved end up being put to sleep. Animal hoarding is “collecting” large numbers of animals – most commonly dogs and cats – in one place, under the pretense of saving or protecting them. Hoarding cleaning is the first step in the process of ensuring the safety of pets and owners that may be trapped in their own homes. The animals are so ill that they will not respond to veterinary treatment, and they are so traumatized that they are highly unlikely to be adoptable. To make matters worse, it’s not always just animals that are being hoarded. Many hoarders collect items in response to anxiety or trauma as a coping mechanism. As of 2013, animal hoarding has been recognized as a mental illness and is listed in the DSM-5 under “Hoarding Disorder.” Animal hoarding has a negative impact on the animals. Even in municipalities where there are limits on how many pets one can own, it is often possible to obtain a permit to keep multiple animals. Even when states do not have any specific laws on animal hoarding, there can be municipal ordinances. The person responsible fails to take action to correct the deteriorating condition of the animals and their housing. Basic hygiene is neglected. Fortunately, there are signs to look out for when it comes to potential animal hoarders. In some municipalities, people are limited as to how many pets they can keep. If you cannot afford to feed yourself decent food because you are buying cat food, you have too many. Animal hoarding is a hoarding behavior characterized by an excessive need to keep as many animals as possible without providing the necessary minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, and shelter. Children who have been abused frequently have difficult forming relationships with humans, so they rely on animals for love and companionship. The number of animals found in hoarding cases range from dozens to several hundreds, with extreme cases involving over a thousand animals. The dogs were in horrible condition. So, they go with the one charge they know they can prove, the system isn’t burdened, and the offender gets off relatively lightly. I have a small farm On 18 acres and horses, goats, chickens, bunnies, etc as well. Often, though, it can be a simple matter of spaying and neutering the animals, and making sure that they have proper veterinary care. By the time hoarded dogs are rescued, there is often no alternative other than euthanasia. The ALDF (Animal Legal Defense Fund) requested and received a ban on the defendants’ owning any animals for a period of 10 years. Every year 3,500 animal hoarders come to the attention of authorities. In a majority of documented animal hoarding cases, most pet owners believe that they are helping their animals by keeping them away from animal shelters and kill shelters. Hoarders, of course, fear losing their animals, so they don’t ask for help. So, where is the cut-off between someone who is simply dog-obsessed, and a person who is a hoarder? They feel compelled to acquire animals, and the compulsion does not go away even when it should be obvious to any reasonable person that it is going to be impossible to care for so many. Often, people do terrible things for what they think are very good reasons, and much of the time, we need to treat hoarders as compassionately as we treat our dogs. In fact, according Jacey Burch of Local 10 News in Florida, many cities do not have pet or animal limit laws on the books at all. Often, addiction and hoarding also go hand in hand. The only way to stop hoarding is to prosecute, and this, as we shall see shortly, can be problematic. According to Dr. Gary Patronek of the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University, hoarders have a compulsive need to acquire animals, along with an inability to perceive that their animals are suffering. A breeder’s dogs will also be in good condition, and there will not be more animals than is practical for the space available. I thought that hoarding would be having more along the lines of 60+ cats. ... Quality of life is imperative at all stages of life for animals! It’s also a slippery slope. It’s not all bad news, though. One of the many hoarding questions is, “How many animals are too many in hoarding situations?” In many cities, counties, and states in the US, there is no definitive legal answer. Sometimes, a situation just gets out of control, and well-meaning seniors are hesitant to seek assistance out of fear that their beloved animals will be taken and put to sleep. The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium defines the problem this way: There is an accumulation of a large number of animals. Often the floors, and even the countertops, of homes where hoarding has taken place, are covered in layers of trash and feces that are inches deep. It is important, though, to understand the issues that lead to hoarding. The laws are woefully lacking, psychological help for hoarders virtually non-existent, and the results of hoarding horrific. First of all, you can contact your local ASPCA or Humane Society. Gary Patronek maintains that limiting the number of animals one may own is bound to be opposed by breeders, rescue groups, and other organizations concerned with animal welfare. In some instances, the court may also order that the hoarder undergo psychological counselling. Basically, hoarders have two characteristics. If you know the hoarder personally, there is nothing wrong with talking to him or her, and offering reassurance that help is available. Hoarding level 5, the most severe type of hoarding disorder, involves severe structural damage to the residence. The offender may also be held liable for the costs of housing, feeding, and obtaining veterinary care for seized animals. They keep an unusual number of dogs, and may try to justify their behavior by claiming that they are breeders. The hoarders continue to try to convince themselves that nothing is wrong. In addition, when a person does have too many animals or pets, the assistance of a trained, experienced professional pet hoarding cleanup specialist will be needed. Animal hoarding is a complex issue where someone is housing too many pets that they can adequately care for. How Many Animals are Too Many in Animal Hoarding Situations. They don’t just neglect themselves – they neglect their children, and elderly people in the home. Animal hoarding is covered implicitly under every state’s animal cruelty statute, which typically requires caretakers to provide sufficient food, water and veterinary care. People in the home, and subsequent offenses can result in the states... For a certain period of time have laws that specifically relate to animal hoarding has lot. 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